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Poster: Tidewater four ten O nine Date: Sep 12, 2012 3:18pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Tape-flips (probably a stoopid question)

Here's one for the clever people, former/current tapers, Dead Head Monte, whatever:

How come there are (so many) tape-flips early on during shows (especially SBDs)?

E.G. I'm currently looking at (OK, I'm doing more than looking at it, but that's between me and the archive) Charlie Miller's 20th November 1978, Cleveland Music Hall #95660.

There's a tape-flip during "Looks Like Rain" - OK, many here don't like the track but I do, and the tape-flip might have been during one of YOUR favourites.......

This is only track #6 of a 20 track show - the rest is flip-free (OK, #95660 comes from multiple sources, but you know what I mean). Maybe 'they' changed tapes between set one and set two but 'they' were able to go the whole second set without interruption.

So, why the early tape-flip? Didn't 'they' (whoever 'they' were) load enough tape to cover the entire first set or whole show? If the Dead were taping all their shows, either for posterity or for possible future releases, wouldn't they start with a fresh tape rather than the dog end of a previous one? Similarly, if a taper was going to go to all the trouble of getting his gear into a show, wouldn't he do a proper job by starting with a fresh tape?

#2

Also, many shows here (SBD & matrix) start with quite a loud 'Crowd/Tuning' track which is then followed by a significantly more subdued opening music track. Why the drop in volume? Surely the technically gifted amongst us could have equalized the two? There's probably more to it than that.

Apologies if these are stupid questions: I'll stop asking them when I know everything. Then again, if there's one thing I do know it's that I'll never know everything.



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Poster: light into ashes Date: Sep 12, 2012 11:22pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Tape-flips (probably a stoopid question)

Since that cut is 40-some minutes into the show, it's a natural place for a tapeflip. You can probably find shows with earlier flips, though.
The Dead taped on both cassettes & reels... Cassette flips would generally be at 45 minutes (though Bear used some 120-minute tapes early on) - reel flips could vary (depending on the length & speed of the reel), but I think the Dead's reel usage was pretty standard, taping at 7.5 ips to get less than 50 minutes a side.
Though they could have used longer reels/slower speeds to get more music per side, this would mean a drop in quality... Crew tapers like Betty & Kidd would not have liked that.

At the time the Dead were not interested in using these tapes for posterity or future releases. The crew took no care whatsoever in making sure to flip between songs, in dull moments, etc....the side ended when it ended. (In the early '70s, that generally means, in the middle of some long jam...)
Fortunately by the '70s they were expert at doing quick flips. In Bear's early days (lots of '69 shows) there are HUGE gaps of several minutes where he must not have noticed the side had ended.

I guarantee no source got the whole second set without interruption in the '70s. It just sounds that way due to the magic of patching different sources together.
One thing the Dead's crew sometimes did (starting with Bear) was to tape on both reel & cassette, and the flips would come in different places. That's perhaps why you see something like 11/20/78 with different SBD sources, instead of just one.

I think the Dead's crew generally did start a new reel with each show, but there may be exceptions - someone might not have wanted a blank half-reel to go to waste...
As for audience tapes, accidents could happen! Unexpected stoppages could happen anywhere.

#2 - volume changes could be equalized by Archive uploaders, yes... Maybe some prefer to leave the levels as they are. Usually I imagine tapers changed the levels once the music started & they saw where the peaks were.
Worst case of this is the SBDs of the Wall of Sound shows where the Dead crew didn't set any levels til, say, the middle of the first song, and you gradually hear different instruments come in... Didn't sound like that at the show!

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Poster: ll rain Date: Sep 12, 2012 6:14pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Tape-flips (probably a stoopid question)

The reason there is a tape flip in LL Rain is because it's right around the 40 minute mark. In 1978 I imagine there were only 90 minute tapes. I know in the mid 1980's they started having 110 minute tapes. But most tapers used 90 minute tapes.

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Poster: Tidewater four ten O nine Date: Sep 12, 2012 7:25pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Tape-flips (probably a stoopid question)

Thanks, but I'm not convinced. I've seen photos of Dead Head Monte's 'reel-to-reel' recorder and I'm sure that this (and others) could go for more than 40 minutes.

Also, there's loads of seamless recordings of Set 2's from this era where the Dead played continuously for what seemed like almost infinity and certainly longer than 40 minutes. Where there are gaps between songs I can see how tapes were swapped between songs and some sort of fading carried out so as to smooth the join, but not where they played without a break (song 1 -> song 2 -> song 3, etc.,).

You might be right and thanks for the input but, for now, I'm keeping an open mind.

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Poster: R Pal Date: Sep 13, 2012 3:17am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Tape-flips (probably a stopiid question)

Would you direct me to some of the tape machine photos you mention? I was involved with an amplifier company at that time and may recognize the machine and/or tape type. The different reel types and the speed switches may be recognizable.

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Poster: Tidewater four ten O nine Date: Sep 13, 2012 3:40am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Tape-flips (probably a stopiid question)

Here's a photo of a tape machine that stuck in my mind. It was uploaded to the forum as part of a post by a chap called Dead Head Monte. I accept that this one dates from after the show I first mentioned and was obviously not available for the early shows comprising the Dead's history but, like I said, the picture stuck in my mind.

Another memory that sticks in my mind is of one review of a show on the archive (sorry but I can't remember which one) where a couple of tapers were so sure that they were gonna get searched and lose their kit (during a time when taping was discouraged), that they entered the venue the day before (I think it was something like a sports arena) and buried their tape machine and supporting kit a foot or so in the ground. The day of the show, they turned up (apparently without any taping gear), got in, found the place where they buried it, recovered it and came out with a great recording. That story always makes me smile, but it could have gone horribly wrong.

Thanks for your response.

Attachment: My_VPR-5_007.jpg

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Poster: Monte B Cowboy Date: Sep 13, 2012 8:39am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Tape-flips (probably a stopiid question)

The photo you attached is a VPR-5 tape deck. It is a one-inch, type-C format, portable VTR (video tape recorder). Co-developed by Ampex & Nagra in early 1984, the portable VPR-5 tape deck won an Emmy Award for Technical Excellence. I was working for Ampex as a field service engineer during this time period. The photo shows the VPR-5's reel-hubs in the "outward" position, allowing for larger tape reels to be used. Normally, smaller-sized reels (spot reels) were used, and the reel hubs were in the "inward" position.

I included discussion threads about reel-flips in my Taper's Handbook:
http://archive.org/post/347359/staff-requests-suggestions-for-spotliight-item
Note: Reel-flips and reel-changes are similar. But they are two different things. Also note, the "reel-changing" sequences for reel-to-reel tapes and decks are different than the flipping and/or changing sequences on cassette tapes and decks.
Ampex equipment has been involved in at least two "extreme-engineering design-breakthroughs" that addressed the reel-changing issues for taping live shows in the field on reel-to-reel tape recorders. The VPR-5 was a great example of this being addressed for TV broadcasters and video production crews in 1984. For the GD, Ron Wickersham designed and built another Ampex example in 1972. Preparations were being made for a big European Tour and a live album with the Grateful Dead. The album would be simply named, "Europe '72". Ron was entrenched in redesigning the Ampex MM-1000 16-track audio recorder. Uninterrupted tape recording was limited by the existing transport that accommodated 10" reels. He was transforming the MM-1000 from its flat transport with eight tracks on top and eight tracks below into a video transport that would accommodate larger 14" reels to extend recording time between tape changes. He planned to redesign it to 30ips to improve the sound quality and reduce the drop-out rate. More details about this are in my Taper's Handbook.

Lastly, I would add that, in addition to what LiA wrote: sometimes on tapes you'll hear what sounds like the crew messing around with levels on the SBD at the beginning of shows. To me, it sounds like sometimes they exaggerated levels up and down -- to do "sound-checks" on the various mics, amps, pickups, and vocals -- to make sure stuff is working properly at the start of the show. The result is that the mix is somewhat out-of-whack during these "testing-mix" and "sound-check" moments.

This post was modified by Monte B Cowboy on 2012-09-13 15:39:53

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Poster: N Hoey Date: Sep 12, 2012 10:02pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Tape-flips (probably a stoopid question)

Listen, there are too many variables and subtleties to explain each and every cut accurately and with certainty.

The most common analog tape side length was technically 45 mins. Usually there was a minute or two extra in reality.

!st sets almost always were separate songs, often two together, but mostly shorter performance segments. Tapers nearly always paused the deck between songs because the band would mess around for minutes tuning and preparing for the next track early in the set. The idea behind pausing was to preserve tape. BUT NO MATTER HOW much you tried it was IMPOSSIBLE to know, for sure, when to flip as you neared the end of the side to avoid a cut. If you see a cut in a song at 40 mins from the start of the set, this is what could explain it:
A. The deck was not paused and the tape ran out at 45-46 mins. LATER when copied, the long breaks between songs were THEN edited, which reduced the playing time to the spot where the cut happened by 5 mins.
B. The deck was paused, but only a little and the editing later still shortened it by 5 minutes.

Other times, despite careful pausing and highly stressful judgement calculations, the way the show went resulted in a cut song.

2nd sets were in certain respects easier IF, the band played with few if any stoppages all the way thru drums for 40+ minutes and Space began after a quick flip assuming it was clear to the audience that drums were done. However they sometimes would play, say, a Scarlet/Fire and stop then a Ship of Fools, stop AND THEN begin a Estimated/Eyes or Playing etc which then might take 45+ mins to get to drums/space. So despite there being some element of predictability, it was NOT certainty. So even masterful guessers could get it wrong. Add in being high, crowd distractions, FOB concerns about security and being caught creating more stress about fiddling with the gear too much, the darkness, etc and there were many ways cuts could happen.

Sometimes a stoned freak crashing thru the crowd might suddenly appear and step on the backpack with the deck in it and shut it off. Whenever you see a cut that does not align timewise with 45 mins, it is most often because of post production edits. But it might be because of a 30 or 60 minute side length and also some edits, or not. Plenty of possibilities.

You simply cannot assume when listening to a particular source, the absolutely certain reason for a cut found in it. There are more common and less common reasons. Some are easier to determine with reasonable certainty and others are not.

Bottom line is they are what they are, and the exact reason matters little now. Whether it was expert work but bad luck that night or an unforced error no longer matters.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Sep 12, 2012 5:57pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Tape-flips (probably a stoopid question)

As a taper, esp with my own band (the DEAD cover band), it was easy for both of these things to happen regularly: 1) we started the tape and let it roll. Often there were LONG breaks between songs that have been edited out of the show you hear, but the first set of six songs might have taken twice as long in "real" time. 2) the sound check prior to the first song was often in need of dramatic reduction in intensity for a variety of reasons. We always wanted to be sure we had the mix to a point that no leads/mics would result in distortion due to having been set at a high level...it was an obsession; folks really worried about the inputs being so high (intensity) that the tape would be clipped (high end absent, etc). In my view we should have been much more concerned with getting the "full" sound of having the meters right up against "red line" (and "in" to it at peak volumes).

Monte can fill you in on the impt addt'l aspects.

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Poster: Tidewater four ten O nine Date: Sep 12, 2012 7:22pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Tape-flips (probably a stoopid question)

You're a taper ?

That's funny, I always thought that you were a restaurant (see attached):

Attachment: William_Tell.jpg

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Poster: dark.starz Date: Sep 13, 2012 7:40pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Tape-flips (probably a stoopid question)

A 7" 1800 ft. reel tape running at 7 1/2 IPS (inches per second) runs for approximately 48 minutes, at 15 IPS somewhere @ 24 minutes.

A 10 1/2" 2400 ft. reel tape running at 7 1/2 IPS runs for approximately 60 minutes, at 15 IPS somewhere @ 30 minutes.

When the folks at the board were paying attention, flips and changes could be managed between songs and sets. Sometimes due to the length and continuation of songs -> particularly their second sets, reel changes happen in the middle of songs.

In the 80s with the audience cassette tapers you would flip side A of the first set 90 minute tape if you were close to the end (within 7 minutes remaining) between song breaks.

Side A of the second set tape usually ran out in drums, you just did a fast flip no big deal. Encores usually ended up on side B of the first set tape.

After 1976, most shows became more predictable in terms of the length of both the first and second sets which coincided nicely with two 90 minute cassette tapes.




This post was modified by dark.starz on 2012-09-14 02:40:58

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Poster: Tidewater four ten O nine Date: Sep 12, 2012 9:31pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Tape-flips (probably a stoopid question)

Yo, see you can type !!!!!

Meet ya in the William Tell Restaurant/Bar (Hua Hin, Thailand), the beers are on me.